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Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland says hotel-type accommodation violates human rights of asylum-seeking children


New report finds hotel-type accommodation is dangerous, exacerbates trauma, and can damage health

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The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS) released a new report yesterday that looks at the human rights implications of housing children in hotel-type accommodation.

Report coverYou can download the 32-page report here.

Much of the report focuses on the use of hotel-type accommodation for asylum-seeking children.

CYPCS says the report is intended to support decision-makers and frontline practitioners in minimising the use of, and mitigating the harms caused by, hotel accommodation.

It added: "The report sets out the human rights framework relevant to use of hotel-type accommodation for children and families in any circumstance, whether in the asylum system or as part of a local authority response to homelessness. It links international human rights standards with domestic law obligations, and the most up to date research evidence, illustrated and informed by insights from those who have experience of living in hotel-type accommodation for lengthy periods of time."

CYPCS finds that housing children in hotel-type accommodation violates human rights and is dangerous, exacerbates trauma, and can damage health.

The report emphasises that as a general principle, children should not be placed in hotel-type accommodation. Where unavoidable, hotel-type accommodation for children must only be used as a last resort, and for the shortest time possible.

"Use of hotel-type accommodation on anything other than a short-term emergency basis is likely to violate a wide range of children's human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and other international treaties," CYPCS states.

The report sets out the many ways that children's human rights are violated in a comprehensive human rights framework analysis, with each violation described in detail. Recommendations are made throughout the report.

Nicola Killean, who took over the role of Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland in September, said: "Our starting point is always that no child should have to live in a hotel, or hotel-type accommodation – they are totally unsuitable and violate a wide range of children's rights. Hotels are not a luxury option. They can be dangerous, exacerbate trauma and cause long-term harm to health and development. Our report recommendations are for public authorities and accommodation providers to follow to ensure that they comply with their human rights duties to children. The recommendations can also support front-line workers to advocate for children."

Killean added that human rights are universal and apply to all children without exception.

The report notes, however, that the Illegal Migration Act 2023 will require significantly increased levels of hotel-type accommodation, raising additional serious concerns about children's rights.

CYPCS said: "The recently passed Illegal Migration Act 2023, while framed by the UK Government as a solution, will serve only to compound the damage to an already broken immigration system. By denying children the right to claim refugee status, it will result in thousands of children and their families being left in legal limbo, unable to work or support themselves and having to be accommodated by the State in hotels, barges and other institutional types of accommodation. Although the UK Government has recently announced that some hotels will be closed, this is because many refugees and asylum seekers are being required to share rooms, or being moved into other similar forms of accommodation such as barges or camps. Meanwhile, the recent Home Office decision to expedite the eviction and removal of support from asylum-seekers who are either successful in their claims, or who have their claim refused, will place additional pressure on Scottish local authorities and on social housing."

In related news, the University of Cambridge's Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL) this week published a new report commissioned by CYPCS on the importance of play for children seeking asylum.

The 22-page report can be downloaded here.

PEDAL says the report discusses the experiences and needs of babies, children and young people in families seeking asylum and living in hotel accommodation in the UK. It focuses specifically on their right to play, why it matters and why it is under threat.

As PEDAL highlights, play can have specific benefits for children who have experienced adversity, such as those seeking asylum.

The report also sets out recommendations for what policy makers and practitioners might do to protect and promote asylum-seeking children's right to play.